Big Y Partners with UMass Amherst Student Farmers to Put Locally Grown Summer Produce on Store Shelves

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DATE:           Friday, July 25

TIME:           11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

WHAT:         Student Farmers Harvesting Summer Crops for Big Y

WHERE:      UMass Amherst Student Farm, 89 River Rd., S. Deerfield

 

Kevin Barry, Big Y’s produce manager, will be on hand to talk about the program.

Now in its eighth season, the UMass Amherst Student Farm has taken a new direction and this month for the first time is harvesting summer crops to supply fresh, local produce to Big Y World Class Markets in Amherst and Northampton. Summer crops now available at Big Y include cantaloupe and watermelon, cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, basil, cilantro, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and beets.

From two students producing one crop in the beginning, today the UMass Amherst Student Farm engages 12 to15 students per year who produce 36 different certified organic vegetables on six acres of land, for 10 different markets. The farm also supports a 75-member Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program on campus and a weekly farmers’ market in the fall, says farm manager Amanda Brown.

Summer crops are a first for the program, Brown notes. “Demand from new summer markets such as UMass Dining Services and Big Y markets gives our students the opportunity to begin production earlier and to expand the number of crops they can learn to grow. It’s great added experience for our student farmers.”

In 2013, Big Y made a $150,000 five-year funding commitment to the student farm in recognition of its value to the community. “Big Y has been fantastic to work with,” says Brown. “They are so encouraging to these students and very supportive of the university. Big Y’s generous sponsorship will help sustain this program into the future.”